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Remember the gnarly cowboy scout who could look at the ground and tell that 12 men came through (in a hurry) three hours ago? He could read the signs.

We all can express our inner gnarly cowboy scouts with Google…to help make better decisions and attract more of the right people to our websites.


For example, Google knows when and where flu season starts by watching when and where searches like “flu symptoms” start to rise. Searches the past 12 months (below) started growing in October and peaked in February. As you might expect. But look at the slow build. If you want to talk to people interested in flu symptoms, likely people who are getting or with family who’s getting flu symptoms, you might not want to wait until February.

How do you get Google to tell you about flu symptoms or any search term you want? Use a tool called Google Trends, which anyone can use for free. This lets you see the number of searches over any time period you select, for any keyword or phrase you select. It also shows you trends, as above, and below. And you can compare things. Shopping for a net meeting tool? Here’s how gotomeeting in blue, one you probably heard of, and Zoom in red, one you probably haven’t heard of, compare in terms of search trends the past two years.

This doesn’t speak to user satisfaction, features, etc., but many more people are interested in Zoom than gotomeeting. This certainly suggests you should look at Zoom if you’re shopping.

Does this feel a bit boring? The kind of thing you can imagine happily not using? Oh dear reader, does how people behave impact your business? I’ll make it easy and answer that for you: yes. Then Google can be your friend, providing information and insights that will help you make better choices.

Attracting people to your website

Enough about you, what about the people you want to attract to your website? People are searching differently, so says Google. People are searching more to educate themselves, they’re searching earlier in the decision cycle, and they’re searching to understand more about the experience. Said simply, I hope: people are searching on more of a granular level. As in: Dallas hotels near parks; Nashville bars with live music; best warranty on garage doors; can you bring guests to Planet Fitness; reliability testing company for optics; pool remodeling contractor that sells filters and pumps).

This suggests two things for me:

  1. If you aren’t using Google Ads to bring people into your website, start. It’s the fastest, most reliable, most controllable way to bring people into your website.
  2. Add information to your site. What information? The information people are searching on. How do I find that information? Ask your customer contact people what questions they’re being asked. And ask Google’s Keyword Planner. You’ll need a Google Ads account, but, once there: click on the wrench icon in the upper right > Planning > Keyword Planner. It will show you average number of monthly searches of any keyword or phrase, related keywords and phrases, average first page bid, for any geography you select (Phoenix, California, Canada, etc.).

So pardner, ya wanna know more about the folks in these here parts, or any parts, jest hitch up ole Google and let ‘er rip. Or iffen yer looking for a gnarly ole cowboy to do’er for ya, that would be me.